We’ve reached a major world population milestone: 8 billion people. It’s no secret that the population on Earth is growing fast. Every year more methods to reduce deaths are developed. It’s a fast moving time, where the internet majorly changes every two years, systems are automated, AI is being developed. The world is not only growing every year, but is developing even faster.
In many ways this is great. People’s lives are becoming more comfortable, more needs are being met, and populations are living longer. Recently, all of these factors together have led to the population surpassing 8 billion. That’s a number so large it would be impossible to count or even conceive of it properly.
Who are the major players in this process though? The whole planet is developing, but who’s increasing the population, and what does that do to a nation? These are the important questions to ask. It’s one thing to have a massive population, it’s another entirely to have a massive population that is cared for.
First though, who’s growing the population of the Earth so rapidly. Some countries, such as China or Russia, aren’t actually growing the population at all. In the case of China this is a legal move, but for many countries it’s a simple cultural difference. There are countless differences that can contribute to a low growth rate. For example, Bangladesh has a 1% growth rate but a fertility rate of 1.96. That’s high fertility for a country that’s growing pretty rapidly. At the same time though Indonesia has a fertility rate of 2.15 but a growth rate of just 0.6%.
This complicates the picture for many regions and nations, although for some it is a much simpler picture. Nigeria currently has the highest fertility and growth rate alike, with an astonishing fertility rate of 5.14. It’s also important to mention that growth rate does not always or even commonly correlate to population size. While India is still growing fairly fast, countries like the U.S, China, and Russia are not.
Europe at large is actually trending downwards population wise. This reflects its more industrialized state, a factor that tends to reduce birth rates. Africa, specifically Sub-Saharan Africa, is in a period of major growth. This contrasts Europe well as African nations have only more recently really started to become major economic players.
A common thought to accompany all these changes is maybe this isn’t such a good thing. Overpopulation is already a problem in many regions, won’t it only grow worse with time. This is, fortunately, not inherently true. While some changes are necessary, there is more than enough space for everyone to live comfortably. More immediate fears are actually around labor shortages and the aging population.
More people are living to be longer which means a less active workforce and more resources towards their care. This has positives and negatives. On one hand, hospitals, pharmaceuticals, homes, these industries will boom majorly. These industries already make massive amounts of money but that is only projected to continue. The problem is, on the other hand, that these industries are already historically overworked and under supervised. Time will only tell if that’s a trend that will continue into the indefinite future.
Longer lives may lead to more money flowing, but they also lead to less workers. Currently there is a surplus of workers, but by 2030 alone that is projected to change. Leading to a potential $10 trillion loss due to labor shortages. This makes it more important now than ever to build confident and loyal workforces.
Other issues are also rising in prominence alongside population. Obvious ones such as global warming and loss of natural resources are no surprise. What may be less obvious is population congestion and the changing of industry. The rising generations do not hold the same values as the generations of the past. This is without even mentioning the importance of technology and remote work in industry.
Work is changing not only on a physical but cultural level. In the U.S, remote work alongside more cooperative and creative environments are extremely popular. The hierarchies of the past are simply being pushed to the side in favor of alternate methods. Although this trend is not universal, and in some countries opposite effects may even be seen.
Finally people are not having relatively similar experiences across the world. This is an obvious and longstanding point, people are different. It’s when the average life expectancy of Spain is 84 years and Chad is 46 years that problems arise. There is a clear and evidenced disparity between people of different regions. This marks the importance of not losing track of localized culture even in a globalized world. Each region needs and wants different things, that is something that will never change. These are the changes a world of 8 billion people is experiencing.
Written by Brian Wallace.
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